Weathering a hailstorm: How to protect your home and car

Published on: 12 November 2014

Extreme weather is a major cause of damage to property. For much of the Highveld in particular, extreme weather generally means violent thunderstorms and hailstones which can lay waste to houses and cars in mere minutes. When the weather threatens, the best you can do is to avoid the worst of it where possible – and be prepared if you can’t stay out of its way.

As the summer months and their storms approach, we would like to offer some tips to minimise damage to your home and vehicles.

When driving

The best protection for your car is under cover. Unfortunately, due to the unpredictable nature of hailstorms, getting out of their way isn’t always possible. If caught, stay calm and look for cover. This could be a covered car park, a petrol station or a bridge. But be careful when pulling over; don’t put yourself or others risk at risk by making a mad dash for shelter.

Useful tip: Don't park under trees as there is a danger of falling branches and debris.

If there’s no shelter close by, pull over onto the side of the road if safe to do so. Hail causes more damage to moving vehicles. You also don’t want to be driving in poor visibility or on slick roads.

Useful tip:  Keep your radio on and follow weather updates closely in summer to reduce the risk of being caught in heavy rains and storms.   

Your home

  • Make sure your home is ready for the rainy season. Clear gutters of leaves, twigs and any other debris regularly. Hail takes time to melt and an overflowing gutter could lead to a leaking roof and further damage. Clogged gutters also cause rainwater to pool, and that water will find its way into your house (particularly with older buildings).
  • Check the downpipes – make sure rainwater has somewhere to go. Large pools of water may harm your home’s foundations.
  • Make sure large trees around your house are trimmed and check for dead and dying branches that could break or fall down in a storm.

During thunderstorms

  • Electricity follows wiring, so don’t use landline telephones, computers or other electrical devices during a thunderstorm.
  • Avoid taking a bath or shower and any another water (pools and dams) for that matter, as water conducts electricity and you could be electrocuted.
  • Lightning can cause power surges, which can harm home electronic devices. Unplug appliances such as computers, WiFi modems and television sets.

Despite your best precautions, thunderstorms and hail can get the better of you. If you suffer damage, be sure to call your insurance company as soon as you can to lodge a claim. For more information on MiWay’s different ways of registering a claim, click here.